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(Article in press)
: 2013

Phenology, synchrony and host range of the Tasmanian population of Cotesia urabae introduced into New Zealand for the biocontrol of Uraba lugens

Raylea M. Rowbottom, Geoff R. Allen, Paul W. Walker, Lisa A. Berndt

School of Agricultural Science, Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 54, Hobart, TAS, 7001, Australia.


The population dynamics of Cotesia urabae (Austin and Allen) (Braconidae: Microgastrinae), a biological control agent from Tasmania, and its eucalypt feeding host, Uraba lugens (Walker) (Lepidoptera: Nolidae) was investigated prior to its introduction to New Zealand in 2011. Previous host range testing on potential New Zealand non-targets determined C. urabae had some potential to attack an endemic species, Nyctemera annulata (Boisduval) (Lepidoptera: Arctiidae). A closely related species in Tasmania, Nyctemera amica, was thus investigated as a potential host along with the native host U. lugens, to better understand the host range of C. urabae and the synchrony with its host in Tasmania. Adult C. urabae emerged from pupal cocoons in the field during January which confirmed a five month window in which its host, the larvae of U. lugens, was absent in the field. Experiments using sentinel N. amica and U. lugens larvae, field collections of N. amica and of larvae of other Lepidopteran species during this five month time window detected no parasitism by C. urabae. In the laboratory, host specificity testing showed reduced attack rates and no resultant C. urabae eggs or developing larvae or any successful pupation of C. urabae larvae from attacked N. amica larvae. It was concluded that N. amica is most unlikely to be a host for C. urabae in Tasmania and no evidence of any other alternative host was found.

Keywords: Host specificity trials; Parasitic wasp; Uraba lugens; Cotesia urabae; New Zealand; Biological control



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